Don’t live in a pre-furnished house of ideas

Just for fun, one of my sisters posted on social media, “Tell me something about you that sounds like a lie but is true.” The first thing that popped into my head: I vastly prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I knew that would surprise people, and I wasn’t wrong.

There are various, well-examined reasons our family attends a Novus Ordo Mass, instead. But when I said on Facebook that I vastly prefer the TLM, a few people were (as I expected) astonished. Perhaps because I’ve written about feminism and consent and because I’m not a republican, they assumed I must therefore hate tradition and prefer modernism, or perhaps that I have some kind of aversion to reverence or beauty, or that I think the past is just full of garbage and should be erased whenever possible.

These assumptions are, of course, a stereotype, just as it’s a stereotype to assume that anyone who loves the TLM must be rigid and sexist and dour and judgmental. Some people are this way, but some are not. It’s not wrong to notice trends and patterns, but it is wrong to assume that everyone you meet must be part of that pattern.

But I had to acknowledge that I do this to other people all the time. I make sweeping assumptions about people’s worldview based on a few allegedly tell-tale comments or preferences. I assume that if they disagree with me on one important thing, they’ll disagree with me on all important things, and are also moreover probably incapable of basic decency.  I do this even though I’ve been surprised and proven wrong more times than I can count; and I do this even though it drives me crazy when people do it to me!

Well, it’s old news to preach against stereotyping, making assumptions, and slapping labels on people. What I’d like to hear more about is how we make assumptions about ourselves … Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.


Image by A R Driver, CC BY-SA 2.0 UK <>, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)